Ha! I can’t tell you how many planners and organizers I have bought that sat EMPTY because scheduling stressed me to no flippin’ end.
You don’t need to stress. just keep it real-yo!
One of the best ways to not get discouraged with your time managing
efforts is to be realistic about how you approach your list of things to do and schedule out time
to accomplish them. This means understanding how long each task can reasonably be expected to take,
how much concentration is involved, and whether or not you can work on another task at the same
time without impairing the quality of your efforts.
In some cases, it is relatively easy to combine necessary tasks and save time. For example, you may
find that instead of making a trip to the grocery store?and then moving on to a drugstore, you simply
choose to buy groceries at a store?that has a pharmacy department. This effectively allows
you to manage two tasks at one time, and still enjoy the same level of quality with each.
?Time is the most valuable coin in your life. You and you alone will determine how that coin will be spent. Be careful that you do not let other people spend it for you.?
? Carl Sandburg
Remember, not all situations are as simplistic as combining a couple of errands. At some point, you
will be faced with tasks that require your full concentration and cannot be balanced with other
tasks at the same time. The trick is to know the difference between the two scenarios.
You can identify a task that will require your full and undivided attention by the following:
? The task requires attention to a great deal of detail. Projects of this type are usually best
accomplished by themselves. For example, it is not a good idea to attempt to make client calls
while you are posting payments to customer invoices. Because it is important to apply the right
amount to the correct invoice number under the correct client account, you don?t need to be
interrupted until the job is complete. Otherwise, your company receipts will be out of line, making
it necessary to find time to isolate the origin of the problem and correct it
at a later date.
? You are unfamiliar with the task. In general, it is not a good idea to attempt to multitask when
learning to handle some new responsibility. In order to master the new task, all your focus should
be on that task. This will help to keep the learning curve to a minimum and allow you to begin the
process of integrating that new task into your daily agenda. Attempting to learn how to handle the
task in a piecemeal fashion will only drag things out and put your
? The timing for the task is urgent. For example, your boss needs a report in time for his or her
meeting right after lunch. Instead of working the report into your other and less important tasks,
reorganize your schedule and make the report your priority. As soon as the report is done and
turned in to your boss, you can get back to your other action items and continue on with your day.
Sometimes, the issue is not so much figuring out how to arrange your tasks to best advantage, but
setting reasonable time aside to accomplish each one. To an extent, this can be forgiven when you
are first taking on a new task. After all, you?ve never done it before and must rely on second hand
information to estimate the time you will need to do a good job. But failing to set reasonable time
limits for tasks you have done for some time can make a good day into a bad one in no time at all.
There are two different ways that people tend to get in trouble with assigning time values to?
? They don?t allow enough time to complete the task properly. When this happens, one of two things
is about to happen. First, the entire day may be thrown out of kilter because other tasks back up
and create a bottleneck that cannot be addressed until you finish your current task. The other
alternative is that you become frustrated and lose even more valuable time attempting to focus and
get on with the task. Either way, your time management process will suffer.
? They allow too much time for the task to be completed. There is no real value in allowing a half
hour to do a task that you know will take no more than five minutes to complete. While it is
important to always build in some spare pockets of time into your schedule throughout the day, keep
it within reason. You will still be able to deal with unexpected events that crop up at the last
minute by setting aside ten to fifteen minutes for that five-minute task. At the same time, you
will use each hour to better advantage and get more done. Whether running a household or on the
job, that is important.
There is also the danger of trying to cram too many action items into a given time frame. Even the
most efficient of time managers realize there are only so many hours in each day. Cutting corners
in order to save time on various tasks may appear like efficient time management on the surface,
but this approach can easily backfire. Tasks that are only half-done in order to move them out the
door more quickly are much more likely to come right back. As a result, the time savings you
created before is quickly gobbled up as you have to sit down and redo the task, this time without
taking the short cuts.
While setting reasonable goals seems to come naturally to some people, others struggle with this
part of effective time management. Here are a few suggestions that may help make it easier to
evaluate each task and carve out an appreciable amount of time to devote to each item on your
A. Begin with a defined start and end time for your workday. What this does is immediately allow
you to determine how many hours you can reasonably devote to getting things done today. When you
have a job, this step is pretty much defined for you, since there is usually a specific time to be
at work and a specific time to leave. However, even if the process takes place in a household,
setting a start and end time will make it much easier to schedule your time realistically.
B. Take a look at each task and attempt to prioritize them to best advantage. Any tasks that must
be done by a specific time of day should take priority during the scheduling. For example, if you
have three tasks that must be done before lunch every day of the week, schedule them as early in
the morning as possible. This will automatically provide you with some extra time later in the
morning if there is an unanticipated snag with any of the three tasks. The chances of still making
your lunchtime deadline will be much better.
C. Assign a time allotment for each task, based on all data that is at your disposal. For tasks
that you?ve done before, you will have a personal knowledge of how long it takes to manage them
effectively. However, for new tasks, you may have to depend on input from others to set up a
realistic goal for completion. If the task is new to everyone, then you may have to set aside the
amount of time you used in the past for a different but somewhat similar task. Demonstrate some
flexibility with your time allotments, since different factors can influence how long it takes to
manage different tasks, even ones you?ve done for years.
D. Ask for input, but don?t rely solely on what others have to say. Since we?ve already established
that proper time management involves being open to new methods and strategies, there is always the
chance that a suggestion or idea from a third party will help you manage a task in a more efficient
and timely manner. However, not every suggestion will be constructive, so don?t automatically
assume it will work. By all means, take it, look it over, and maybe even give it a try. But if it
doesn?t seem to have the potential to streamline the process and allow you to manage your time more
efficiently, don?t be backward about rejecting the suggestion and explaining why it is not
practical. For all you know, doing so will prevent someone else from getting bogged down because
they implemented a process that is really not all that efficient.
E. Never stop evaluating the schedule you create. Situations and conditions change over time. What
worked very well five years ago may not be the best option today. But unless you are willing to
look into new options, this may slip right past you. In fact, others may fail to notice as well,
especially if your usual schedule is still somewhat effective and does not disrupt others. But
without this constant process of re-evaluation, you stand to miss out on some great tools that
would help you manage your time to better effect.
While many of your time management goals are focused on the successful and timely completion of
action items, a realistic approach to setting goals involves a little more than just getting things
done. Don?t forget to include these elements in your goal setting as well:
? Time to play as well as time to work. Without some rest and recreation, it is all too easy to
begin viewing your daily activities as a repetitive grind that leaves you feeling dehumanized.
While you want to get things done efficiently and on time, make sure you don?t do so at the expense
of taking your lunch hour or getting away from work on time. Life is a lot more than simply having
a finished agenda at the end of the day.
? Face the fact that some days will be filled with unexpected factors that no one could possibly
have foreseen. No matter how well refined your time management is, there are times when it will
have to be revised at the last moment. Accept this as the way things go sometime and do not see it
as a failure on your part to effectively manage your time. Instead, see it as an opportunity to
accept a challenge and come out on top at the end of the day.
OK-hit me: what tips can you add to help others manage their time?